The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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G'mar Chasimah Tovah – a resampling of a familiar tune

This dance nigun is indeed the familiar one from the end of Birkat Ha-Mazon (the blessing after a meal), starting at Barukh hagever. The Chabad version gives the tune some special tweaks and rhythms that make it singable again. It really shows how Chasidic inflection can inest a tune with ruach. That's why just doing Shlomo nusach in a "snaggy" shul doesn't always cut it.

The two versions you hear on the track are the same tune, but the first was sung for the recorder, so it's easier to hear the words and the notes, while the second was a spontaneous addition to group dancing at Amherst's Chabad House that we did for Kiddush Levanah (the ritual of blessing the moon). So listen through the first part to get to the geshmacht version.

Listen here to a quick recording I made of the tune -- for now, the original recording of Chabadniks dancing to this tune has gone missing!

The words are: Kesivah, g'mar chasimah tovah. L'shanah tovah um'sukah!

כתיבה גמר חתימה טובה לשנה טובה ומתוקה
"You should be written and inscribed for good. To a good and sweet year!"
(a fuller version of the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur greeting-blessing Yidn share with each other)
An odd fact about this tune is that Lubavitchers don't even say that part of the benching (= the blessing). They stop after Barukh hagever...mivtacho. I've gotten a specific explanation but it may have to do with the same reason so many people won't sing the next line, Na'ar hayiti, out loud. That line means, "I was a young man and have even aged, and I never saw a righteous person abandoned and his seed pleading for bread."

Besides the tradition of the impoverished tzadik, there is also the implication that anyone who is so poor must not be righteous. I love that it's not just a badge of liberalism to refuse to say such things. Even more: the Chabad nusach not only doesn't say this line, it completely drops it from the liturgy, ending the benching right at mivtacho.

That's why when I came up to the rabbi excited about how the tune had been refurbished from Birkat Ha-mazon, it took a few people conferring to figure out what I was meant.

May you be inscribed for a good year!


There doesn't seem to be a button to download this niggun (G'mar chatimah tovah)

Posted by: Bonni Schiff at October 12, 2008 5:01 PM


Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006